MBA Performance?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by slipper, Jun 1, 2010.

  1. slipper macrumors 68000


    Nov 19, 2003
    I am interested in purchasing a MBA so today i stopped by the Apple store to check it out. How would you folks rate the MBA performance for things such as Flash (video and games), Photoshop, and some limited iMovie use? I played a few games from while i was at the Apple Store and there was some noticeable lag. No other programs were running at the time.

    I will not purchase the current generation and will wait for an update. It will most likely be a HDD model unless SSD prices drop significantly from its current price point.
  2. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    Keep in mind the Apple Store most likely isn't running the latest flash player that supports hardware acceleration and always go SSD it makes the Air faster at common tasks. Also wait till June 7TH!
  3. slipper thread starter macrumors 68000


    Nov 19, 2003
    Yes i will wait until WWDC. If a new MBA is announced or not, i will not purchase one until a new one comes out.

    FYI i am currently using a MBP 13" 2.26ghz. I expect a loss in performance but jittery Flash performance is unacceptable. Anyone else notice poor Flash performance or was it just that particular demo unit?
  4. Mhkobe macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2009
    The MBA is fine for light photoshop use, and I have no idea why the flash does that. My brother has a PCMB, and his has really jittery flash performance.
  5. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    First, you need to realize that OS X is simply not as efficient at running HD apps or apps without h.264 hardware acceleration. Times are changing and Apple FINALLY just gave low-level access via APIs to developers to use hardware acceleration of h.264. Things will improve, but for now, Windows 7 provides the best performance on MBAs without any problems as you reported.

    Running Windows 7 on the exact same MBA, you wouldn't experience one problem whatsoever. I know because I do it all the time. HD apps that have h.264 do just fine in OS X. Anything in a browser in OS X can be problematic, but it's getting better. With the latest version of Flash, it's a start at big improvements in OS X. However, the MBA runs entertainment apps, h.264, and OpenGL much better in Windows 7. The components in the MBA are plenty capable, it's Apple controlling the environment so much as why OS X is worse than Windows 7. So "stability" comes at a price for OS X users. We can see it with Flash, HD apps, h.264, and anything OpenGL related.

    Do not buy an HDD MBA. Understand that the drive and drive controller are the ultimate bottleneck in today's computers. Before people should want faster CPUs, more RAM, and etc, they should absolutely ensure they get the best performance drive possible in their computers. You will be waiting and waiting on the 4200rpm HDD all of the time. It will be beachball nightmares a few days in, and you will ultimately suffer for buying an MBA. I would recommend anyone buying an MBA spend $50 more than the HDD version and get the faster 2.13 GHz CPU and 128 GB SSD for $1549 refurbished at Buying the SSD is worth every penny, and it has the same warranty and is in the same condition as new when you buy an MBA. OR, if you wish to save some money from the $1499 price tag, the 1.86 GHz with 128 GB SSD is available for $1349 refurbished.

    Whatever you do, do not buy the HDD version, as you will be truly disappointed and waiting on the MBA all the time. If someone must buy new to get the MBA, they absolutely have to come up with $300 more for the SSD version. If you cannot afford it, buy the 13" MBP instead. I wouldn't recommend an HDD MBA to anyone no matter how inexpensive or how much they "save" in money because they will spend their lives waiting on the worthless HDD in the MBA. If you cannot afford the right MBA, don't buy one. You will be much happier with a 13" MBP that is incredibly faster than the HDD MBA.

    The MBA is plenty capable. Either run Windows 7 on it or ensure you keep on top of updating Flash and HD playback software to ensure latest versions using APIs to do h.264 hardware acceleration. In addition, make sure you buy the SSD version and go with the cheaper refurbished versions if you have to. Good luck with whatever you buy.
  6. Mhkobe macrumors regular

    Jun 25, 2009
    +1, 4200rpm will screw you.
  7. cleric macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    Sounds like VLC has a patch floating around for hardware acceleration and hopefully it will be merged in to 1.1 soon. That should solve the need for a windows partition.
  8. dch123 macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2010
    Flash heats up my MBA

    After using an MBA for around a year, I find it near perfect. Aside from the RAM limitation, the big problem (for me), is HEAT. And currently, the main culprit is Flash!
    I always leave Activity Monitor running showing %CPU from highest to lowest. The first offender was some background piece of MS Office that I deleted. Now, when the fan starts and my legs are getting toasty, I can be sure that Flash is running. It doesn't even register high on the %CPU scale (usually less than 10%), but as soon as I force quit it, the machine cools down within an minute or so. Another heater upper is Firefox. It would be my preferred browser but I have learned to live happily with Safari as it runs cooler than any other.
    VLC runs flawlessly on my (1.86, SSD128) machine.
    None of the heat issues are as prevalent on my MB Pro13.
  9. DiamondGCoupe macrumors 6502

    Nov 12, 2007
  10. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I would really have a hard time recommending any laptop that still has a mechanical drive. The difference in IOPs is just plain stunning and the other benefits (ex: power and shock resistance) benefit a laptop more than any other platform.

    For a desktop system where you are likely to need more capacity, a HDD still makes sense but even there, I think a SSD/HDD pair of drives works better. My only real complaint with my 27" i7 2TB iMac is the internal HDD. I would have much prefer a modest sized SSD for performance, and an external 2TB drive for capacity. I have considered upgrading the drive, but I have been reluctant to open the case.

    All four of our laptops are now equipped with SSDs, as is our single remaining home desktop PC. Only the iMac and our home server still contain HDDs.


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